The city of Minneapolis reached settlements on April 13 in two civil lawsuits filed by victims of police brutality at the hands of former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd on April 20, 2021, almost two years to the day of the conviction. The city council approved a settlement of $7.5 million in a civil suit filed by John Pope, and $1.375 million in the Zoya Code case, for incidents that occurred in 2017. This follows the historic $27 million settlement with George Floyd’s family in 2021.
According to the complaint, John Pope was hit over the head with a flashlight, grabbed by the throat and shoved against a wall, and rendered unconscious when Chauvin applied a neck restraint, after his mother called police alleging domestic violence. After Pope, who was 14 at the time of the incident, regained consciousness, he was handcuffed and restrained, while Derek Chauvin applied pressure with his knee to Pope’s neck and upper back, as he pleaded with officers saying he could not breathe. In December 2021, Chauvin pleaded guilty to criminal charges in federal court related to the incident.
Zoya Code was similarly handcuffed by officers after her mother called MPD. While handcuffed, Chauvin applied pressure to Code’s arm by raising them upwards toward her head. He subsequently slammed her head on the ground, applied force to her neck with his knee, and transported her to the squad car using a hobble device that tethered her feet to her waist.
In response to the settlement announcement, MPD Police Chief Brian O’Hara said in a statement, “Today, I humbly apologize to Mr. Pope, his mother, and his sister. I humbly apologize to Mrs. Code and her family. I am sorry for the pain you endured that resulted first from this abuse, and further from this department’s disgraceful inability to intervene and hold him accountable for his actions.”
“The Minneapolis Police Department failed not only Mr. Pope and Mrs. Code,” said O’Hara’s statement, “but through this failure, we put everyone who would later come into contact with this former officer at risk.
“Going forward,” he added, “we will ensure sufficient processes are in place to identify and intervene early to prevent misconduct and brutality from occurring in the first place. And under our settlement agreement, we will demonstrate that we have done so to an independent evaluator before the court.”
Chauvin conviction upheld by Minnesota Appeals Court
On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the convictions of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. Chauvin’s appeal for a new trial outside of Hennepin County was rejected.
“ I am grateful for the decision of the Court of Appeals, and grateful we have a system where everyone, no matter how egregious their offense, is entitled to due process and fair treatment,” wrote Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, the lead prosecutor in the case, in a statement. “The Court’s decision today shows once again no one is above the law and no one is beneath it.”